TikTok steps up efforts in US to boost popularity as Trump-era hostility subsides, but political challenges remain
- TikTok is testing a new ‘stories’ feature for ephemeral video, sponsoring a cybersecurity competition, and getting free in-flight access on American Airlines
- ByteDance’s efforts to woo American users come as political tensions linger after former US president Trump tried to ban the app last year
In the past few days, it was revealed that the platform is testing a new “TikTok Stories” feature, sponsoring a cybersecurity competition, and being offered as free in-flight entertainment to American Airlines passengers.
In a bid to maintain its appeal, TikTok has been testing a new “stories” feature that allows users to post ephemeral videos. With stories, users can “share daily highlights that disappear after 24 hours”, according to screenshots tweeted on Thursday by British social media consultant Matt Navarra.
When asked about the new feature, TikTok responded that it is “experimenting with ways to give creators additional formats to bring their creative ideas to life for the TikTok community”.
The feature is similar to Snapchat and Instagram Stories. Twitter introduced its own version called Fleets last year, but discontinued it this week, citing lack of interest.
Separately, TikTok this week announced that it was the founding sponsor of the esports-like US Cyber Games. The app’s chief security officer is joining the Cyber Games board to “help the US Cyber Team develop critical teamwork and technical skills”, and it hopes to inspire potential cybersecurity talent by harnessing the educational benefits of gaming, according to a statement from the company on Tuesday.
US President Joe Biden drops Donald Trump orders seeking ban on China’s TikTok, WeChat
TikTok also made news on Monday when American Airlines announced that it was adding the app to its free in-flight entertainment options, giving passengers 30 minutes of free access each flight.
While the app has maintained its popularity against political headwinds, TikTok has been facing mounting competition. Google’s YouTube got into the short video race in March with its new Shorts feature. This month, the online video behemoth started handing out funds to creators in an effort to quickly scale the platform’s new section.
TikTok has started pursuing this trend after ByteDance already incorporated live-streaming e-commerce into Douyin.
For four of the first seven months of the year, the US has been TikTok’s second-largest market in terms of downloads on Android and iOS, after accounting for Douyin iOS downloads in China, according to market intelligence firm Sensor Tower. The US fell out of the app’s top two markets from April to June, and returned last month.